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A thousand years ago St. Gregory of Narek (951-1005) set out, with much trepidation, on a sublime mission to translate the pure sighs of the “broken and contrite” heart into an offering of words pleasing to God. Beginning each prayer with the incantation “speaking with God from the depths of the heart,” he referred to himself as “a living book (Prayer 39b)” and to his book as a compendium of prayers for all times and nations – “a testament. its letters like my body, its message like my soul (Prayer 54e).” Thus, the man equated himself with the book, and ever since, the book has been equate with this saintly man. So the book like the man came to be known affectionately as Narek.
Hear, all-seeing vision of hope and goodness of life,
the profuse sighs of my hurting soul,
unreachable greatness, fearful name, living word,
longed for message, delectable taste,
worshipful calling, confessed beneficence,
sweet perception, professed reality,
glorious essence, blessed existence,
Lord Christ, praised and worshiped with your Father
and exalted and proclaimed with the Holy Spirit,
who alone became human like us for our sakes,
so that you might make us like you for your sake,
light unto all, merciful, almighty and
heavenly in all ways,
I pray that with your divine miracle-working power,
compassionate God, you restore this,
my collapsing broken earthen vessel.
And I pray that you recast the image you gave me,
worn by sin,
in the lightning crucible of your word.
Cleanse the temple of my body,
the vessel of my soul,
the altar of your repose,
as your dwelling place,
I pray you, O doer of good.
Do not repay my evil deeds with evil.
I am drunk, in the words of the prophet,1
but not with wine.
Empty out the dregs of iniquity
from my stupefying cup of death.
And by the command of your salvation, giver of all life,
let me with the last drop of your cup2
be spared on the day of judgment.
1. Is 29,9 Is 51,21
2. Is 51,22.